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Weber vs Kamado Grill (2020): Comparing Charcoal Grills

By far the most popular charcoal grill in the world, the Weber Original Kettle is a staple in millions of American homes. Inexpensive and durable, the grill has become a backyard icon in its own right. The Kamado Joe Classic, on the other hand, has a cult following, thanks largely to its innovative and instantly recognizable design, coupled with a steep price tag.

Between the two, countless other charcoal grills have sought to imitate these household favorites, although few have succeeded to duplicate the stature of Weber and Kamado Joe. Here, we take a look at how two of the best-selling models from both brands—the 22″ Weber Original Kettle, and the 18″ Kamado Joe Classic II—stack up against each other.

Weber vs Kamado Grill Comparison Chart

ModelWeber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill 22″Kamado Joe Classic II Charcoal Grill 18″
 Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, BlackKamado Joe KJ23NRHC Classic II Stand-Alone Grill, Blaze Red
PriceCheck Price on AmazonCheck Price on Amazon
Dimensions (H x W x D)39.5″ x 22.5″ x 27″48″ x 46.5″ x 28″
Diameter22″18″
Cooking Surface363 sq. in. 256 sq. in.
407 sq. in. (with grill expander)
508 sq. in. (with 2 sets of grates)
660 sq. in. (with both expander and grates)
Weight32.3 lbs.232 lbs.
Cooking GratesPlated steel, hinged cooking grateStainless steel
ThermometerBuilt-inBuilt-in
MaterialPorcelain-enameled steel (bowl and lid)Ceramic
Side TablesNoYes
Tool HooksYesYes
Warranty10 years (bowl and lid)
5 years (cleaning system)
5 years (plastic components)
2 years (all remaining parts)
Limited lifetime warranty on ceramic parts

Design

Both the Weber Original Kettle and the Kamado Joe Classic II are designed for even heat circulation, that is reflected in their unique grill shapes. 

Here’s a side-by-side look at the Weber Original Kettle (left) and the Kamado Joe Classic II (right).

Although relatively simple in its appearance, the Weber Original Kettle reflects a thoughtful construction process that considers performance and durability. The design of the now iconic bowl and lid has largely been unchanged since 1952, except for a few refinements. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In the case of the Kettle, its parabolic shape ensures even heat circulation inside the grill. For strength, the grill’s steel frame is coated in a porcelain enamel that’s guaranteed to be corrosion-resistant.

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In contrast, the Kamado Joe Classic brandishes a thick-walled, heat-resistant ceramic shell. It runs throughout the entirety of the grill’s innovative, egg-shaped chamber. Like the Kettle, this prominent form of the Kamado Joe ensures a regulated air flow, while the ceramic exterior insulates and reflects the heat. Given the material and construction, the Classic II comes in at a hefty 200+ pounds. So if you’re looking for a more portable charcoal grill, the Kettle, which weighs just over 30 lbs., may be more to your liking.

Moreover, Weber’s Original Kettle series comes in several colors, including the classic black, green, copper, and crimson. With the Classic II from Kamado Joe, you’re stuck with red. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, considering the vibrant finish has made the brand easy to recognize. However, those who might want a grill with a different aesthetic may find the Kettle variants appealing.

Features

These charcoal grills are equipped with several features to help regulate temperatures. 

Top row: Weber Original Kettle damper (left), and the heat shield on the lid handle (right). Bottom row: Kamado Joe’s patented Kontrol Tower Top Vent (left), and the mesh gasket and steel latch (right). 

Both the Weber Original Kettle and the Kamado Joe Classic II are designed to work with their lids closed. As such, you’ll find that these grills feature some form of ventilation system. On the Kettle, you get a damper that helps regulate the heat inside. Open it, and the grill gets hotter; close it, and the temperature goes down.

The Kamado Joe, on the other hand, employs the patented Kontrol Tower Top Vent. This cast aluminum vent works to control temperature, regulate airflow, and prevent rain from entering the grill. For an air-tight seal, the Classic II is also equipped with a fiberglass mesh gasket and stainless steel latch that locks in heat. 

With the grill’s size and insulating capacity, the Classic II can reach temperatures as high as 750ºF. In contrast, the Kettle can achieve max temperatures between 500 to 550ºF. Because both grills operate on such high temperatures, they come with lids designed for safety. On the Kamado Joe, you get a heat-resistant and rigid HDPE handle, while the Original Kettle from Weber uses a lid handle with a custom-designed heat shield.

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Cooking System

Although the Weber Original Kettle is a versatile grill, the Divide and Conquer Cooking System on the Kamado Joe Classic reimagines what and how grilling should be.

On the left, the Kettle’s hinged cooking grates; on the right, a view of the multi-level Divide & Conquer system on the Classic II, together with specialty cooking surfaces.

When it comes to cooking, the Weber Original Kettle brandishes plated steel cooking grates. These grates are hinged, allowing users to add charcoal to the heavy-gauge steel grate even while grilling. Although more compact than the Classic II, the Kettle also boasts a larger primary cooking surface area. It’s more than enough space to grill, char, and roast, especially with the range of Weber accessories you can use with your Kettle. A motorized rotisserie attachment, for example, is perfect for slow-roasting whole chicken or ribs.

Despite its heft and size, the Classic II does have a smaller primary cooking surface area compared to the Kettle. Nonetheless, it features an innovative Divide & Conquer Cooking System that expands the capacity of the Kamado Joe. Like in the Kettle, the Classic II uses steel grates as its default. However, with the Divide & Conquer system, you get a flexible half-rack design that can be configured for multi-level cooking. This means you can set up your Kamado Joe for as much as 660 sq. inches of cooking space given the grill’s 18-inch diameter. 

A range of cooking accessories is also available for the Classic II. The Heat Deflector, for instance, helps create different heat zones in your grill. The steel cooking grates are also interchangeable for a number of specialty cooking surfaces, including ceramic stones for pizzas and stain-resistant soapstones for fish, meats, and vegetables. 

Ease of Use

The Weber Original Kettle and Kamado Joe Classic II have features that make cooking easier and maintaining the grills hassle-free.

Here’s a look at the ash catcher on the Weber Original Kettle (left) and the airlift hinge on the Kamado Joe Classic II (right).

Unlike gas grills, regulating the temperature of charcoal grills isn’t as easy. For both the Weber Original Kettle and Kamado Joe Classic II, careful management of airflow is necessary. Fortunately, these two grills come with built-in thermometers for better temperature control alongside their respective dampers and vents.  

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Some features of the Kettle and the Classic II also underscore efforts to make them easier to operate. Kamado Joe’s lid, for instance, is surprisingly easy to open, thanks to an airlift hinge that reduces its weight. On the Original Weber Kettle, on the other hand, you’ll find that handles on either side of the grill include tool hooks for accessibility and convenience.

Maintenance should also be minimal. Both the Kettle and the Classic II feature removable, ash catchers for hassle-free cleanup. Brushing or scraping the charcoal and cooking grates on both grills before cooking also generally suffice in cleaning the surface. But keep in mind that with the Kamado Joe, the grill bands need to be checked once or twice a year, while the gaskets replaced every 2 to 3 years. 

Verdict

If you want a straightforward grill for your household, the Weber Original Kettle is value-for-money. For a one-of-a-kind grilling experience, opt for the Kamado Joe Classic II— but only if money is not a constraint. 

If you’re looking for a straightforward grill that combines a balance of performance and features, then the Weber Original Kettle is for you. Compact in size yet impressive in its cooking capacity, there’s a reason why it’s arguably the most popular charcoal grill in the market. It’s definitely a grill both pros and beginners will like.

For a different style of cooking, then a ceramic grill like the Kamado Joe Classic II is worth the look. Although the sky-high price is often a deterrent, the Classic II leverages on solid craftsmanship, innovative features, and unique grilling experience. Its Divide & Conquer system alone reimagines how cooking grates should be, and turns an ordinary grill into a versatile cooking vessel. If you’re someone who is willing to splurge on an extraordinary grill for premium flavor, then this one is for you.

FAQs

📌 What’s the difference between the Weber Original Kettle and Kamado Joe grills?

The Weber Original Kettle is a traditional grill that uses charcoal or wood fire to cook food. On the other hand, the Kamado Joe grills are essentially ceramic grills or smokers, taking after the “kamado”, which is a traditional Japanese wood or charcoal-fueled earthen vessel used as an oven or stove. Whereas the Weber Original Kettle is built using steel, the Kamado Joe Classic II’s exterior is made of ceramic to better insulate heat.

📌 Can I cook Pizza on the Weber Original Kettle and the Kamado Joe Classic?

Yes, you can cook pizza on the Kettle, as long as the dough is thick enough not to fall through the grates. However, the Kamado Joe is better suited for baking, thanks to the dedicated ceramic pizza stone surface you can purchase separately.

📌 Which is better for camping, the Kamado Joe grills or the Weber Original Kettle?

Given its size and weight, the Kamado Joe grill isn’t easy to move around like the Original Kettle grill. Weber’s charcoal grill, along with its extensive line of portable electric grills, is better for camping and tailgate grilling. 

📌 How hot can the Kamado Joe Classic II grill get?

These premium ceramic grills can reach temperatures of up to 750ºF. 

Last update on 2020-08-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Mari Bassig
Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.